EDITORIAL: A crisis of leadership - or democracy?

EDITORIAL: A crisis of leadership - or democracy?

IS Australian democracy itself in crisis or is it suffering simply from an identity crisis?

The recent leadership spill in Australian national politics, and subsequent election of another prime minister, could well have thrown more fuel onto the burning fire that is voter apathy.

There is no doubt that voters have become disillusioned by the political manoeuvres in Canberra and the subsequent reports of bullying and backstabbing. And their subsequent reaction has been to turn to more populist parties whose parties have more extreme views on issues like immigration than what the national electorate is used to.

Labour or Liberal-National – there is no ideological divide as far as a growing number of voters are concerned. Given that voting is compulsory in Australia, this has the potential to elevate some radical parties to a position of national prominence that they really shouldn’t be entitled to.

The rise of Senator Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party as a “homewrecker” illustrates this. Her party may not win any more seats in parliament but can inflict enough damage to the major two parties to allow a third party (like Katter’s Australian Party in Queensland) to claim a parliamentary presence.

In particular, it seems the conservative Right of politics is wrestling with a crisis of identity as more extreme forces threaten to rip party unity apart from the inside. There can be no doubt that the issue of immigration is fuelling these tensions. Conservative political parties worldwide are wrestling with the rise of the far-right, and there can be no doubt that xenophobia is at the heart of this extremism.

Followers of a particular faith or ethnicity, or both, are increasingly demonised by the actions of a few evil individuals. This demonization is playing into the hands of a radical few. In the UK, they had Brexit (which was decided on immigration), in the US they have Donald Trump; across Germany and Austria and Russia, the far-Right is growing. Even in Australia, there is now open comment about easing immigration access to people based on skin colour!

Multiculturalism is under siege. You only need to monitor political events to see it. The time may be coming when action by ALL of us will be needed. It may no longer be enough for moderate voices to stay silent in the hope that these tense issues will dissipate soon enough!




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